Obeying Whatever God Tells You to Do

Continued from here.

The final piece you need to know is that if you want to know God’s will, you must actually DO IT. God isn’t going to keep “speaking” to you unless you do what He tells you to do. As an example, let’s say my response to God’s invitation to lead a Bible study at a Christian transitional home was no. I am likely to find that God stops “speaking” to me until I obey.

Years ago, I told God that I was going to do X and wanted Him to bless this path. I felt conviction that this wasn’t His will, but I didn’t care and did it, anyhow. For one miserable year, I received no guidance from God. He did not begin “speaking” to me again until I obeyed Him by repenting of my rebellion and changing direction.

A primary purpose of God communicating with you is so you will know what His will is and do it. Per Priscilla Shirer in her book, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking, God wants to speak to you: Why would He die for you but then refuse to talk to you? However, if you aren’t going to do it, then what’s the point of Him “speaking” to you? So don’t bother asking Him what His will is unless you intend to actually do what He tells you to do.

If you will pay attention to “coincidences” that are collectively an invitation to join God where He is already at work, pray for wisdom and discernment, and confirm that what you are hearing is consistent with God’s Word and character, then you can step forth boldly, confident that you are indeed walking in God’s will. And then when obstacles arise, you can continue to move forward boldly, knowing that the enemy is going to try to stop your progress. Don’t let the enemy shake your confidence. He might make the path very rocky, but your God is in control, and His purposes will be accomplished. Walk boldly and courageously, mighty warrior. May you one day find yourself walking into the Hall of Faith!

[Graphic: Cover of Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God is Speaking. Courtesy Amazon.]

 

God’s Will is Bigger Than Your Role in It

Continued from here.

In his book, Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Henry Blackaby made an interesting distinction that I had never before considered. He said that asking what God’s will is for your life is the wrong question. Instead, you need to ask what God’s will is and then join Him where He is already working. Blackaby says that God is always at work in the world around us. When we seek to do His will, He will open our eyes to an area where He is working. That is our invitation to join Him in His work.

For example, God’s will was not for Moses to lead His people out of slavery in that it wasn’t about Moses. Instead, God’s will was to free His people from slavery. God was already at work, and He invited Moses to join Him in this work. God had prepared Moses for the task, but if Moses had declined to join God where He was already working, then we would be reading about someone else instead of Moses.

The same dynamic holds true in the example I shared in my last blog entry about leading a Bible study at a Christian transitional home. God was already working at that home, and He opened my eyes to see His activity. That opening of my eyes was my invitation to join Him in that work. If I had declined, He would have invited someone else, and I would have missed out on an opportunity for which God had prepared me. Make no mistake – God’s activity does not hinge upon our participation. That being said, he chooses to partner with us in that activity, working through us to accomplish His will.

Thus, another way to know whether you are doing God’s will is simply to recognize that you have been invited to join Him where He is already working. This can unfold as a series of “coincidences,” as happened with me as God invited me to join Him in his work with the women at the Christian transitional home. When you feel a pull toward doing something that is consistent with His Word and that topic keeps arising – such as through words during your devotional time, a sermon, or something a Christian friend says, take notice! When God opens your eyes to where He is at work, that’s often an invitation to partner with Him.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Revised and Expanded. Courtesy Amazon.]

 

God’s Will Comes with Confirmation

roger_thatContinued from here.

You have searched the Scriptures and feel confident that what you are feeling led to do is consistent with God’s Word and character. However, you still aren’t sure that God is specifically calling you to do it. Now what?

I pray for God to give me some sort of sign that I am to take action, which is consistent with God’s Word. I also tell God that I will do exactly as He is leading me to do: I’m simply asking for confirmation so I don’t embark upon a journey that falls outside of His will. The signs I have received have not been as dramatic as the confirmation that Gideon experienced, but I have seen God give some really obvious signs to other people. The signs of confirmation I receive are typically more subtle, but I have learned to recognize them.

Here’s a specific example: God led me to step down from leading a Bible study through my church that I started six years ago. I’ve missed leading a Bible study and felt a strong desire to lead another one, but I knew I needed to wait for God to show me when and where. I got a phone call from a woman who lives in a Christian transitional home, asking me to come to the thrift store that supports the ministry. While I was there, another woman from the transitional home asked to talk with me, and I felt strong compassion for her. Then, the conflict I had for attending a fundraiser for the transitional home was unexpectedly canceled. At the fundraiser, someone just happened to mention that the ministry had lost a teacher and that they needed a Bible study leader on Tuesday mornings. I had no question that God’s will was for me to fill that empty slot.

I have found that God’s will often makes no logical sense. I work on Tuesdays, so I had to shift my work hours around to free up my schedule. While I did have a strong desire to lead another Bible study, sometimes God’s will has me suddenly feeling a nudge to do something that I, quite frankly, would not typically want to do. A prime example is my sudden desire to work for a prison ministry when I had been resistant to prison ministry for most of my life. When I suddenly feel drawn to doing something that aligns with God’s Word and is something that I would not typically want to do, I know that’s God’s will.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace flying in a fighter plane under the words, “Roger that.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

God’s Will is Always Consistent with His Word

yes_sirContinued from here.

If what you believe God is leading you to do is inconsistent with Scripture, you are being deceived. God will never lead you to do something that expressly contradicts His Word. For example, it is never God’s will for you violate one of the Ten Commandments, such as to steal, commit adultery, or disrespect your parents. Jesus said that it violates God’s will even to do these things in our hearts, so, as an example, it’s never God’s will to lust after someone you aren’t married to.

So, let’s say you are a married woman who meets a Christian man with whom you feel a strong connection. It is not God’s will for you to pursue a friendship with this man. What might start out as an innocent friendship can rapidly transform into adultery, even if nothing physical ever takes place between them. While there is no Bible verse stating, “Thou shalt not be friends with a man with whom you are not married,” we can look at what the Bible does say and apply the principles to specific situations. The same holds true for the many issues we deal with today that are not specifically addressed in the Bible but are nevertheless covered by general biblical principles.

Not only is God’s will always consistent with His Word, but it’s also always consistent with His character, which is expressly explained in the Bible. For example, God has a heart the vulnerable in society, so standing up for those who are being exploited is always going to be within His will. Extending grace to those who don’t deserve it is also always going to be within His will. Being kind to others is always going to be in His will. Here’s a good rule of thumb for the bigger picture of behavior that is always squarely within the will of God:

And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’” ~ Zech. 7:8-10

We should pray for wisdom and discernment to know when God is calling us to administer justice versus mercy as there’s a time for both. Only God knows the heart and whether justice or mercy is appropriate in a particular situation.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace dressed as a soldier, standing in a tank, saluting, and saying, “Yes, sir!” Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

How Do I Know Whether This is God’s Will?

questionThe same question has popped up in several places in my life recently: “How do I know that what I am doing is God’s will?” Interestingly, while I’ve heard this question from people before embarking upon a new leg of their journey, I’m actually hearing it more frequently from people who have already committed to a course of action. They felt confident that God was directing them to do X when they started out. However, the road has been difficult, and the end has remained out of sight far longer than they ever imagined, causing them to question whether they are, in fact, walking in God’s will. After all, if they are walking in God’s will, why are they encountering so many obstacles?

Before launching into some ways for helping you verify whether you are correctly discerning God’s will, let me assure you that it is normal to encounter obstacles as you follow God’s will. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if my journey were to be completely smooth, that would cause me to question whether I am actually walking in God’s will. Whatever God has called me to do is furthering His Kingdom purposes, which Satan wants to thwart. Thus, I expect opposition whenever I am following God’s will.

Think about the obstacles that people in the Bible experienced as they were clearly walking in God’s will:

We don’t question whether any of these people were doing God’s will, and yet their situations got worse instead of better for a season. We cannot look to our circumstances for reassurance while we are in the middle of doing God’s will: we must remember as our circumstances get harder that opposition is to be expected. Ultimately, Pharaoh did let the Israelites slaves go, the Hebrew boys survived the furnace and did not even smell like smoke, Nehemiah did complete the wall around Jerusalem, and Jesus conquered death and hell!

Now that we know what not to look for as confirmation that we are doing God’s will, let’s discuss where we can find the reassurance we are looking for.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace under a large question mark. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Finding Yourself Off Course: Final Step is Leaving the Results to God

blanketContinued from here.

As I shared in my last blog entry, I have many regrets about choices I have made throughout my life. However, I have been walking with God long enough to see Him take those very things I regret and work them for good. As an example, God used the very sin that caused me a year’s worth of agony to open a door He wanted me to walk through in a later season of life. I cannot put into words how awe-inspiring it is to see God take the very thing I regret and use it for good to accomplish His purposes later. With God, NOTHING is wasted.

As I look back over my life, I see how God has taken the very things I regret the most and woven them into the tapestry of my story to create something beautiful. While I continue to feel remorse on the rare occasions I think about those experiences, I feel no guilt because I know God has forgiven me. Many of those mistakes and poor choice are woven into my testimony, and God uses them today to reach other people who have either made similar poor choices or who are on the verge of doing so. What the enemy intended for harm, God now uses for good.

While you are in the midst of a difficult situation, it can be difficult to believe that God can work even this for good, but He can! He can take your most broken, vulnerable places and turn them into something that brings beauty. I believe that’s one reason the Bible urges us to tell our story. It actually overcomes the enemy!

If I always got it right, I wouldn’t be of much encouragement to anyone who doesn’t. And, let’s face it, none of us gets it all right. However, when I share with you my weaknesses and faults and you see the victory in my life, you are encouraged that this can be your story as well. We don’t have to walk perfectly to have a relationship with God. If we did, only Jesus would have a relationship with the Father. Instead, we need to walk in repentance followed by obedience, never allowing guilt to immobilize us. Instead, we need to encourage one another, trusting that God is in control and can work even this for good.

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace wrapped in a blanket. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Finding Yourself Off Course: Step 3 is Letting Go of the Guilt

judgeContinued from here.

Once we have found ourselves off course, repented, and made the choice to obey God no matter the consequences, we need to move on in our walk with God, hopefully wiser and more determined to follow wherever He leads. Sadly, many Christians have trouble moving forward because they are mired in guilt for the choices they made. Once you have repented and have changed course to follow God, the matter is settled on God’s end. We, as His children, need to learn to have the same mindset. If we don’t, we’ll allow the enemy to immobilize us so that we are unlikely to bear fruit and cooperate with where God is leading us because we are too busy looking backward.

Jesus’ sacrifice was enough, even for whatever it is that you did. There’s no sin so great that Jesus’ blood doesn’t cover it. You are not the exception. Your situation is not the one that is bigger than God or has stumped Him. Remember that we serve a God who breathed life back into the corpse of His Son’s mutilated body. If God can raise the dead and restore a mutilated body, He can take the pieces of the mess you have made and turn it into something good. I know He can do it because He has done it for me more times than I can count!

As an example, I have many regrets in the way I parented my child. I was an emotionally-broken young mother who didn’t have enough oxygen in my own spiritual mask to take care of his. Eighteen years later, my son is a wonderful young man, but he doesn’t love God, and that breaks my heart. I look back and see so many opportunities that I squandered to teach him to love God. If I allow myself, I can remain in a place of looking backward, filled with guilt, and immobile myself from following where God is leading me today. Instead, I lean on God’s promise in Isaiah 49:25 to save my children, reminding God that I only have the one child, so he’s the one He will have to save to fulfill that promise. I trust that God is good and that I cannot muck things up so badly that He cannot redeem them.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace sitting in a judge’s seat over the word, “Guilty.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]